塩尻市 Shiojiri, 長野市 Nagano, Japan.
After teaching in Omi Mura, a 2,000 person village, in Nagano, Japan, for over a year I very ignorantly assumed myself to be counted in only a handful of people considered gaijin, or foreigners, living in the town. However, while beginning research for an article on the Brazilian population in Nagano prefecture, a friend introduced me to Nixon Ribeiro who laughed, confirming with friends that one of the factories in Omi, just down the road from my house, had many Brazilians who worked there, quickly debunking my naive concept of Omi’s homogeneous population.
The word gaijin is problematic for many Brazilians in Japan, Nixon explained, because it can be hard to break past barriers of foreignness, even if you’ve been born and raised in Japan. My chats with Nixon and his family and friends were all informal and sporadic, but while the story stayed in its infant stages, an article from Yuko Nishimura, a contributing writer to Global Ethnographic, a journal for contemporary ethnography I work with, speaks more specifically to the myth of monocultural japan. Nishimura, an anthropologist at Komazawa University in Tokyo, debunks homogeneous japan from the perspective of Japan’s contemporary indigenous populations and minority youth movements.
Nishimura, Y. January 23, 2013. Reconstructing Minority Identites in 21st Century Japan. Global Ethnographic.